Friday, March 30, 2012

Bangkok update

I have my laptop with me for the conference and was all excited to be able to blog while on the trip... but then my hardrive crashed the first morning of the conference aaaand I no longer have a photo app. ...Working on it ...but all things seem to be stalled.

I'm not loving Bangkok (at all) yet. I plan to get out to more of the city this afternoon... on my list of things to see are the Grand Palace and Wat Po (one of the biggest, most popular temples).

So far, I've been staying in the business district and have taken the SkyTrain to the shopping center of the city, in order to get to an "Apple" store to have my computer looked at. After spending over 3 hours at this "Apple" store, I no longer have iPhoto or any Microsoft Office programs -- grrreat. I spent over 3 million bhat... and now have a new hardrive... but lost a lot too (my bad for not being better about backing things up).

It's been frustrating but things could definitely be worse. The conference has been really good so far and it feels comforting to be connected to the Internet again (in a way, it's sad how dependent I am on feeling 'connected' but I'm ok with that, as it helps in living abroad).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Next up? -- BANGKOK!

I leave this afternoon for Bangkok, Thailand. 

I'm SUPER excited to get to Thailand!

This will be the 5th country I'll go to in SE Asia since moving to Vietnam -- AWESOME!

The main purpose of this trip is for a conference... the EARCOS Teachers' Conference to be exact. It's a huge teachers' conference... EARCOS stands for: East Asia Regional Council of Schools... and there is even a library-specific strand of sessions this year, which is perfect.

...Around spending my days at the conference, I plan to see as much of the massive city as I can!

love the corner fruit lady

I love the fruit lady on the corner next to my apartment...

She always gives me a thumbs-up AND blows me kisses!

Oh... and she gives me a great price on fruits.   :)

Also on Phan Xich Long Street lately? ...a banana cart man!

Scoozi Pizza

I had dinner at Scoozi the other night - it's a lovely outdoor wood-oven pizza place in District 1.

My favorite is their rucola pizza! Mmmmm...

Across the street from Scoozi is an old apartment building with laundry and plants hanging in the windows ...I like this building, as it seems to have some old, hidden spunk!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Star Apple

I ran into my landlord last night as I pulled into our building's garage.

She gave me some fruits to try and told me how to eat them... she called them Breast Fruit... held one up to her chest and said... "because they are like milk from the breast".... uhhhh... Ok, thanks - I'll try it.   :P

I came into my apartment, looked it up and found that, in English, it is called a Star Apple... in Vietnamese they call it Vu Sua, which is translated to: milk from the breast. When cut in half, a star-shape is made (...I cut mine in half the 'wrong' way) ...and the middle of this fruit is a milky white that is very juicy and sweet.

Mai told me to cut the fruit in half and use a spoon to scoop out the soft, juicy white part in the middle. She warned me to not get too close to the outer part, as it can be difficult to digest and does not taste good.

Well... I tried one... and... I'm a fan! Whether it's called a Star Apple or Breast Fruit... I'll eat to that.   :)

I like this article about the Star Apple...

Although there is an abundance of fresh fruits available here, I find that I really miss the fruits from home that are not locally grown here raspberries, peaches, grapefruits, apples, and blueberries. I spent over $75 on groceries last week at an expat grocery store... completely treating myself to fruits, hummus, and cheeses that I normally wouldn't get because of the price! 

...I can buy a bag full of fruits from my corner fruit lady for about one dollar... but one (ONE) grapefruit from this expat grocery store cost 100,000 dong... that is $5.00 USD (FIVE DOLLARS!!).

Ridiculous. ...I will probably splurge every once in a while BUT will continue to stick to the markets for most fruits and veggies.

do you wear underwear?

I had the funniest phone conversation this morning...

I was out to breakfast with Patrice and my phone rang... it was the tailor.

She asked me if I was free... I was confused, as I don't have any clothes at the tailor's right now...

I couldn't really understand what she was saying... but finally I heard her ask me,
"Do you wear underwear?"

Uhhhh, yeah.

She then asked me where I get my underwear.

I told her that I brought them with me from the United States... that I haven't bought any here. (By the way, you do not want to buy underwear or any kind of intimates in Vietnam... no good... seriously.)

She kept talking and I thought maybe she had a costumer asking her and wanting a recommendation... so I said that if I were looking to buy underwear, I'd probably go to one of the big malls, like Vincom.

...She kept talking. I guess that wasn't what she needed.

THEN I understood her saying that her friend just opened an underwear shop... she's tried them and they are alright... the underwear is cheap ...Only about $3 - $5 and (again, she is telling me) they are good.

Uhhhh... hilarious.

...She wants to take me to her friend's shop. ...Today.

I told her that next time I'm at the tailor's shop she can give me her friend's card and if/when I need underwear I'll go to her friend's. (Hint: trying to end conversation...)

Well, I guess the friend doesn't have business cards yet... and Dung (tailor) wanted to take me to her friend's shop today... right now!

I thanked her... told her I was at breakfast with a friend... but if/when I need underwear, I'll let her know and we can go to her friend's shop.

Throughout the entire conversation Patrice was watching my face and laughing. I think my face went from complete confusion to a look of bewilderment, amusement, and wanting to hang up!

I finally was able to end the conversation... but know that next time I go to the shop I'll be pushed to visit  this friend's place with her. ...I really don't think I care to do so.

THEN, after the bizarre phone call, I received a text from Dung, asking me to not mention her friend's underwear shop when in the tailor's because her boss will get upset with her ...but when I want to go, I should text her and she will bring me to her friend's. ...HA! Oh man. Only here...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Hoi An - some favorites

Clay whistles of the Chinese zodiac animals being sold at the river...

Eggs at the market...

Bells hanging in the traditional home we had a personal tour of...

Hoi An's way of life - favs

The pictures below capture a feeling in Hoi An which I loved... it's peaceful, antique, colorful, and majestic...

90+ 2

THIS is my favorite 90+ boat lady in Hoi An! She is adorably cute and very happy/friendly.



I first saw this lady during a morning run. We learned more about her from a nearby cafe that Elizabeth and I stopped in later the same day... she is over 90 years old and, since she is too old to work, she sits in her boat all day and takes pictures with tourists... who then pay her a small sum. (She also sells the clay whistles in the flat baskets in front of her.)

At one point, she floated over to visit a nearby friend...

After taking a couple of pictures with her, she gave me a couple whistles...

walking Hoi An...

The 4 main historic streets of Hoi An are kept motorbike and car free during certains times of the day and weekends... it's really nice to not have to deal with traffic!

Wine delivery...

Hoi An offers much

A family's offering set outside their home on a Sunday morning...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hoi An... more fun ones

I found a great jewelry shop in Hoi An, amidst the cute cafes right along the river. This is towards the back of the beautiful shop... dinner time.   :P

The photo below is one of my favorites.
The colors are so telling of Hoi An and its magical aura...

Nice Saturday night dinner out!

This little boy was really cute... his family obviously wants him to become a star. They've put him front and center... their windows open up to the street right in front of the Japanese temple bridge and it creates a little stage. His mom kept prompting him with some of the words... and a crowd was gathering to watch...

Here's a short video of him singing...

Hoi An...

Just some fun ones...

Morning run... picking morning glory...

Cyclos along the river...

Breakfast time / coffee meeting near the Japanese temple bridge...

The water here was a bright blue... weird... but beautiful...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hoi An - more temples

Wealthy families of Hoi An's past have built their own temples... each family has its own temple -- so they are all over the town! Below are some pictures of a few of the many temples that Elizabeth and I passed on our daily walks...

Hoi An - temple

Elizabeth and I visited a large temple that is on Hai Ba Trung Street just as you're leaving town (towards the hotel we stayed at).

The grounds within the area were beautiful...

Below is the Kitchen God...a God within Chinese mythology that is celebrated in the Vietnamese culture as well. Especially around the Tet (Chinese New Year) holiday, the Kitchen God is very important, as he is believed to report to Jade Emperor of the household's activities for the past year. The Jade Emperor (emperor of the heavens) then either rewards or punished the family, based on the report from this domestic god. (Learn more about the Kitchen God at this Wikipedia article...)